BTEC Unit 59 Aircraft Gas Turbine Engine Design and Performance HND Level 5 Assignment Sample UK

Course: Pearson BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering

This course, Pearson BTEC Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering (Unit code Y/615/1536), is designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of aircraft gas turbine engine design and performance. Covering thermo-fluid principles, propulsion cycles, and turbomachinery, intake, combustion, and exhaust modules, students will learn to assess overall efficiencies and investigate factors affecting gas turbine-powered aircraft operations. 

Upon completion, students will be able to determine engine performance, examine design elements, and understand the relationship between performance and environmental impact. This course equips learners to meet current industry demands for quieter, cleaner, and more efficient aircraft engines. 

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Assignment Activity 1: Determine gas turbine engine performance, using thermo-fluid principles and propulsion cycle efficiencies.

A gas turbine engine is a type of internal combustion engine widely used in aircraft propulsion and power generation. Its performance is based on the application of thermo-fluid principles and the efficiencies of different propulsion cycles. Here, we will explore the key concepts related to gas turbine engine performance:

Thermo-fluid principles: Gas turbine engines operate on the principles of thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. The engine intakes air, compresses it, mixes it with fuel, ignites the mixture, and then expands the hot gases through a turbine to produce thrust or mechanical power.

Propulsion cycle efficiencies: Gas turbine engines follow a thermodynamic cycle, and the performance is often assessed through the following efficiencies:

  • Thermal Efficiency (ηth): This is a measure of how effectively the engine converts the  heat energy from fuel combustion into useful work. It is calculated as the ratio of the useful work output (thrust or mechanical power) to the heat input from the fuel.
  • Propulsive Efficiency (ηprop): This efficiency relates to how much of the engine’s power is effectively used to propel the aircraft forward. It is calculated as the ratio of the actual thrust produced to the ideal thrust that the engine could produce under the same operating conditions.
  • Overall Efficiency (ηoverall): This is the product of thermal and propulsive efficiencies. It represents the engine’s ability to convert fuel energy into useful work for propulsion.

Propulsion cycles: Gas turbine engines can operate on different cycles, such as the Brayton cycle, which consists of four main stages: intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust.


  • Intake: Air is drawn into the engine’s compressor.
  • Compression: The air is compressed to increase its pressure and temperature.
  • Combustion: Fuel is injected and ignited, causing a rapid increase in temperature and pressure as the mixture undergoes combustion.
  • Exhaust: Hot gases are expanded through the turbine, extracting energy to drive the compressor and any additional load (e.g., aircraft propeller).

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Assignment Activity 2: Evaluate the design and performance of aircraft gas turbine engine turbomachinery.

Turbomachinery in a gas turbine engine includes the compressor and turbine. The design and performance of these components significantly impact the engine’s efficiency and overall performance.

  • Compressor: The compressor’s role is to increase the pressure and density of the incoming air before combustion. The design and efficiency of the compressor are crucial for achieving high compression ratios and minimizing losses due to friction and flow separation.
  • Turbine: The turbine extracts energy from the expanding hot gases, which is used to drive the compressor and other accessories. The turbine’s design and efficiency are vital to ensure effective energy extraction and to provide sufficient power to drive the compressor and generate thrust.

Assignment Activity 3: Evaluate the design and performance of aircraft gas turbine engine intake, combustion and exhaust modules.

  • Intake: The intake module of a gas turbine engine is responsible for providing a smooth and efficient flow of air into the engine. The design of the intake affects the pressure recovery, flow uniformity, and avoidance of boundary layer ingestion. Proper intake design can enhance engine efficiency and reduce the risk of engine stalls.
  • Combustion: The combustion module is where fuel is injected and mixed with the compressed air to undergo combustion. The design of the combustion chamber affects fuel-air mixing, combustion efficiency, and emissions. Modern engines strive for leaner and more efficient combustion to reduce pollutant emissions while maintaining performance.
  • Exhaust: The exhaust module releases the hot gases after passing through the turbine. Its design influences thrust, jet noise, and thermal signature. Efficient exhaust design can maximize thrust production and minimize noise and environmental impacts.

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Assignment Activity 4: Investigate the factors affecting the design, performance and environmental impact of gas turbine powered aircraft operation.

Several factors influence the design, performance, and environmental impact of gas turbine-powered aircraft operation:

  • Aircraft mission profile: The intended use of the aircraft, such as short-haul vs. long-haul flights, influences the engine’s design and operating parameters.
  • Fuel efficiency: Improving fuel efficiency is critical to reducing operational costs and environmental impact. This includes advancements in materials, cooling techniques, and combustion technologies.
  • Emissions: Gas turbine engines produce greenhouse gases (e.g., CO2) and pollutants (e.g., nitrogen oxides – NOx). Engine design and combustion improvements aim to minimize these emissions.
  • Noise reduction: Jet engine noise can have environmental and community impacts. Innovative design features and improved materials help reduce noise levels.
  • Maintenance and reliability: Engine design should prioritize reliability, ease of maintenance, and durability to ensure safe and cost-effective operation.
  • Environmental regulations: Compliance with international and local environmental regulations shapes engine design and operational practices.
  • Alternative fuels: Research into sustainable aviation fuels can reduce the environmental impact of aircraft operation.

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